Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Technical difficulties

Two days with a busted modem and no internet access, and now that it's finally fixed I'm just too damn tired to write a word.

Well, except for the 25 in that first sentence.

And those eight.

And these three.

Goodnight Gracie.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

A name

Yesterday it occurred to me that it would be so much easier to dodge those well-intentioned so, do you have any kids? bullets if parents like My Beloved and I had a title - a one-word name given to people in our particular circumstances. The childless parents.

When you're a child and your parents die you are an orphan. Why isn't there a title for grown-ups when the unthinkable reverse happens?

My typical reaction is to drop my head, nervously shift my eyes back and forth in their sockets and listen to my heart pounding in my ears while I determine how to tell whoever has just innocently asked for a piece of information they probably don't want to hear, that my son died.

It's gotten to the point where it's not as emotionally painful as it is just plain deflating. I'm a normal person when I meet a stranger, but the instant they ask that dreaded question I become a pitiable wretch. And I know they think of me as "the woman whose baby died" anyway, so wouldn't it be so much better if there was an actual name that could be used instead?

Do I have children? No, I'm a ____________. End of story.

Well, end of story unless you have a hairdresser named Eduardo who prods you into telling him the whole story and then wants to know about the current status of your fertility.

I know people would still look at me as a pitiable wretch even if I had a title, but at least delivering the information that would lead them to that conclusion wouldn't be so awkward.

So I propose we name ourselves, we childless parents.

And while we're at it, we should think of a name for those who have living children in addition to ones that have died. That would allow those folks to include their missing little ones when they answer "yes".

So, any thoughts?

I'm only half kidding, by the way...

Thursday, January 25, 2007


I know life isn't fair. I know it's not even supposed to be fair. And I know that for all the whining and hand wringing I do, there are a billion people who have stories to tell that are far worse than mine.

Like, for example, the two little orphaned African boys living in a mud hut, sleeping on tattered plastic sheets, eating when they can - like when the rain isn't pouring through the holes in their thinly thatched roof and putting out the fire they use to cook whatever food they can find. Their lives are immeasurably harder than mine, and from where I sat on my puffy loveseat watching theirs play out on the TV, my life kind of looked like a cakewalk. Mostly.

But even though I know I have a charmed life in a million and one ways, I still want to throw myself on the floor and whip up the world's biggest grown-up-lady tantrum. Legs kicking, arms flailing, screaming, crying, gnashing of teeth - the whole nine yards. And maybe one more yard for good measure.

Why oh why can't I get pregnant?

I've done it before. Granted, my record isn't stellar. We go to bed childless each night despite seeing two pink lines three separate times in the almost four years we've been trying. But I did it. I conceived. And had it not been for the fucked up medical system I would have put our toddler to bed a few hours ago. Read him a story, tucked him in, kissed him goodnight.

Instead I'm here ranting about the unfairness of life, and trying not to feel guilty about ranting about it.

Because, you see, I turn on the tap and clean, safe water pours out. I'm healthy (well, if you don't count the busted uterus). I'm loved. I love. I have money to buy food. I have money to buy the hiking boots I want. I was able to afford a good education. I had opportunities. I have opportunities. I have friends. I have family. I can see and hear. I can walk. Most of my hair isn't gray. I've lost almost 40 pounds. I'm full. I have security. I am understood. I have respect. I don't have insomnia. I'm not incontinent. I can run up the stairs. I have a backyard. I can dream. I have good memories. I am capable of making more. I have ideas. I laugh. I have straight teeth. I have a roof over my head. I have access to a doctor when I'm sick (or afraid I have breast cancer). I don't have to beg to survive. I don't just survive. I have nine million pens and about 15,000 balls of yarn in my stash.

But I don't have my babies - any of them. And someone - the gods, mother nature, fate - seems to think that's exactly the way it should always be.

That can't be fair. No matter what else I have, that can't be fair, can it?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

And now for something completely different...

Uh, does anyone have any idea where I might find a crochet pattern for a cocker spaniel snood? Apparently it's a protective sort of device that keeps their ears clean when they eat and snowball-free when they're walked in the winter.

I had no idea dogs wore snoods.

I barely knew what a snood was...

Anyway, it was a request made by my aunt, and since she's going to do a pastel landscape of my Grandparent's old cottage for me for Christmas, it behooves me to do this for her.

Plus she's a good egg.

So, any idea where I might find a cocker snood (giggle giggle)?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I need to know

Just out of curiosity, how many times can one be erroneously convinced that she is pregnant before the powers that be deem her a complete and utter delusional mental case?

Uh, I need the answer to be well into the double digits, by the way...

Monday, January 22, 2007

Impulse buying

MY BELOVED: Look at this!

ME: Oooh, I LOVE it! Wow - I wish we knew someone we could buy it for.


ME: Well...maybe we should get it?

Big pause while we stare at the box in my hands

ME We could get it and...and...


ME: Yes. Hope.

So we did. And we are.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Well that'll teach me to be nosey

Much to the mutual chagrin of our husbands, my neighbour M and I enjoy going to open houses. Just to be clear, neither of us are planning to pull up stakes and hightail it out of the neighbourhood - we do it purely out of curiosity. To see other homes like ours, to check out paint colours, to see where they've put their couches, to ooh and ahh over houses that are bigger than ours...and sometimes to giggle at ugly curtains and hideous bedspreads.

Hey, we're ladies.

Anyway, we headed out on Sunday afternoon to check out a large home a few streets away. This time it wasn't purely nosy-neighbour syndrome though, since M has friends who are interested in moving into the area and she wanted to check the place out for them.

It may have been our first semi-legit real estate outing.

We wandered through the main floor, did the typical small talk with the agent and headed upstairs to the much touted master bedroom.

Master indeed. It could have swallowed up most of our bedrooms in one gulp! And it was nice. Big, bright and airy.

So big, in fact, that it housed the nursery along one wall.

I sort of started a bit when I saw the crib, but I've seen baby stuff before. I've been in my neighbour's house WITH her baby a million times, for heaven's sake. I can deal with seeing a crib and baby accessories and even little outfits hung in the closet (we've very thorough when we snoop through open houses).

But what really did me in was the change table. It's the exact same one we had for Thomas. Exactly. The. Same.

I stopped, pointed and said "Oh. Oh - that's the change table we had."

Then I stood there dumbly staring at it. As thought if I stared long enough I would magically be transported back to our nursery. The long-gone nursery of two years ago.

I see our change table every day. It's still up in the spare room, and except for the first drawer which holds special mementos from Thomas' life, it's now being used for yarn and craft storage. I'm totally used to seeing it.

I'd just forgotten what it looked like when it was covered in baby things being used for the purpose we bought it for.

I immediately looked to the crib to see if everything was the same in this weird parallel universe.

And you know what? I don't know. I can't for the life of me remember exactly what Thomas' crib looks like. I walked into that nursery a million times a day and stood there staring at it, dreaming of what it would be like to see his little face looking back at me, and now I can't remember what the crib looks like.

It's in the basement, tucked away beside the empty bassinet. Forgotten.


Well that'll teach me to be nosy, won't it?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A very lazy post because I have no energy left

We had an appointment with my primary care OB at the fertility clinic this afternoon. But instead of blathering on about that (there are no answers, by the way, just the recommendation for more intrusive testing - increasingly so), I'm going to post a picture of my most recent little toque creation.

Because I like it, because evidently I'm vain that way, and because I just can't bear the thought of rehashing everything the doctor said today. It needs time to roll around in my head.

And I need time to bury myself under the covers and pretend I'm 7 years old again.

So while I do that, here's a hat...

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Old habits die hard

Thomas was on my mind a lot the other day, but in that old familiar way that makes me so desperately sad.

As time passes I'm able to think about him without crossing over into the land of complete anguish every single time. It has become so much a part of me, his life and his loss, that it's almost difficult to think of his birth and death as events. or to think of him as a baby that I bore. It's like he's just part of me - the way I see the world, the blood in my veins, the air in my lungs, my waking, my sleeping.

But there are days when I slip back into my old ways - when I find myself thinking of him as someone who slipped away. Someone I just can't reach. Someone who is lost forever.

Those moment make me ache. And I remember that ache so well because it plagued me 24 hours a day from the moment Thomas died for months on end. I'd almost forgotten what it was like until it showed up the other evening as I was waiting for My Beloved to come home from work.

He'd sent me an e-mail (the contents of which I won't discuss in deference to his privacy) that broke my heart and made me think about our son as the little soul we lost.

It's amazing what the mind will do to protect itself. It's only now that I realize the complicated measures it must go through every second of every day in order to ensure that my right foot will continue to follow my left foot step after step after step.

I know we lost our little boy, but I absorb that knowledge and make it part of me instead of simply carrying it along with me. Absorbing it makes it easier. Carrying it, well I might as well be dragging the CN tower around with me all day.

I don't know if this makes any sense at all to anyone but me, but that's the only way I can describe it. I have to internalize Thomas or the sorrow of his not being with me would suffocate me.

Anyway, the other night as I pondered the e-mail from My Beloved while I waited by the window to see him coming home to me, I thought about our boy. I opened the window, rested my arms on the sill, looked up into the darkened sky and quietly sang him a lullaby.

And let myself miss him like crazy.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

There's good news and bad news

The good news is I don't have breast cancer. The bad news is I busted our immersion blender making the sinfully rich tasting chocolate cheesecake pudding Stephanie recommended (see comments from my pudding plea post).

About the cancer...

Yeah, so I've had this dime sized sensitive spot which, because of its stubborn refusal to go away, had me completely convinced that I had some rare form of breast cancer.

I'd all but buried myself in the family plot.

In my less pessimistic moments I'd think, "No, God wouldn't do that to us on top of losing Thomas and battling secondary infertility, would he?" But if there's one thing I've learned, it's that that wacky God is capable of just about anything if it happens to be part of his grand plan. You know, the one he's still not interested in sharing any part of with me.

So into the doctor I went. I worked out my speech in the days leading up to my appointment to avoid the awkward topless babbling scene I'd been playing out in my head. I mean, how does one whip out a boob and ask someone to have a poke at it? The speech included the fact that there was no lump to be found.

That's right, no lump. I went in convinced I had breast cancer despite the lack of any hard evidence whatsoever.

In my speech I conveniently left out the part about me being a wee bit worried that I was slowly coming completely unhinged and had been pondering whether or not this was the start of my full-on hypochondria.

No point in divulging all the gory details. Gotta save some for the next appointment.

Anyway, long story short, after some poking and prodding she told me there was nothing wrong - no lumps, no bumps and thus absolutely nothing to worry about.

Unless you count the fact that I was sitting there half naked grasping at the shredded remnants of the tiny little paper top they gave me to cover myself while she was giving me my diagnosis.

I'm not sure why they give you the little top to put on in the first place if they're going to rip it off you and leave you wearing nothing but tiny ragged paper sleeves, but I digress.

So I'm fine. Crazy, sure, but otherwise fine.


And now, the pudding...

Oh YUM! It's very rich, very thick and totally does not taste like something that's low in fat. Not at all. It wasn't quite as sweet as I would have thought (or maybe would have liked) but that could be easily remedied with a touch more honey.

If you like the taste of cheesecake, this pudding-like dessert is definitely something you should try. However, don't double the recipe and then try to blend it up using an immersion blender because odds are you'll blow the motor.

Trust me.

I plan to work my way through all the recipe suggestions and even if you don't particularly care, I'm going to write a review of each one I try.

Because now that I don't have breast cancer pudding seems all the more sweet.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


I'm in desperate need of a low-fat chocolate pudding recipe.

Seriously. It's bad.

If I don't get pudding soon...I don't know what might happen. Does anyone have a good recipe? Or know where I might find one? Anyone? Anyone? Anyone? ANYONE???


Monday, January 08, 2007

The ugly truth

It's amazing how relatively together I can be one minute and what a pathetic mess I can be the next. I'm always surprised by this Jekyll and Hyde routine - that it still comes on so strong every now and then. After close to two years I'm mostly even keeled. Mostly. I can control the rage and sorrow and have it blend seamlessly with the part of me that has recovered enough to function with some semblance of normalcy. I can look and act and almost feel normal most of the time.

But on Friday a little of the crazy lady slipped out.

I spent day with my sister and a friend of ours, both of them teachers and still off for the Christmas holidays. We went shopping, had lunch and eventually wound up at one of my favourite clothing stores. I was happily wandering past racks of clothes to make sure I'd selected everything I wanted to try on, when I heard another shopper chatting with a clerk.

The shopper had just had a baby. She was looking for in between clothes because she was too large for her pre-baby clothes and too small for her maternity clothes.

And that's when I panicked.

I started to hear more than I could bear. She had an easy delivery. Not everyone can do it, but she was up and about soon blah blah.

I drowned out her voice by walking away from them as fast as reasonably possible, holding one ear shut with my free hand and trying to focus on the music playing over the store sounds system. I'm not sure, but I might have been humming to it too.

My in-store version of LA LA LA LA LA LA LAAAAAAA! I CAN'T HEAR YOU!!!!

It wasn't quite that bad - I don't think - but I'm kind of surprised that I did it at all. The flight response kicked in so swiftly that I was halfway across the store with my finger jammed in my ear before I even realized what I was doing.

And yet I ask my pregnant friends for belly pictures and cuddle my neighbour's baby every chance I get. Because I want to.

When I make the decision to immerse myself in all things baby it's okay. When I'm ambushed by a loud shopper who feels the need to broadcast her perfect birth story to everyone within earshot it's not.

These rules of mourning are completely unfair and make absolutely no sense.

Except that in some horrible way they aren't unfair, and they do make sense. It's appalling, but true.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

An apple a day - with some cheese

It's all about food these days, what with this being day 6 of Weight Watchers II: The Sequel. And with that in mind, I have a snack to share that literally blew me away when I tried it for the first time yesterday.

It's quite possible that it's not altogether as delectable as I think it is because I'm pretty sure hand sanitizer on felt would taste pretty darn good to me right about now, but just in case my taste buds and tummy aren't lying, you should totally try this.

Cut up an apple into little pieces (this makes it look like a LOT in the bowl - which, if you're on Weight Watchers, will make you want to squeal with glee) add about a 1/2 cup of 1% cottage cheese and sprinkle with cinnamon (to taste - I use probably a 1/4 of a tsp). Mix it all up and enjoy!

It's sooooo awesome! It kind of tastes like creamy apple pie. Well, with cold little cheese chunks and no crust, but close enough.

Good and good for you - and only 2 Weight Watchers points. Can't beat that!

Okay fine, a big honking piece of thickly iced chocolate cake beats the hell out of a skinny little apple and low fat cottage cheese, but just play along. The crazy hungry lady needs you to just play along.

Friday, January 05, 2007

The creme de la creme

The lovely folks over at Stirrup Queens and Sperm Palace Jesters have done a round-up of the best blog posts of 2006 as written by those who have suffered pregnancy and/or infant loss and/or infertility.

The interesting thing is that the writers did the choosing. We picked and submitted posts that we thought, for whatever reason, best exemplified our experiences as mothers of lost souls, as infertiles - or as whatever sad label happens to best fit us.

The results are here if you want to take a look.

The big take away? We are not alone. Happily and sadly, we are not alone.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Say cheese

Oh Lord. I just discovered that someone found my blog by searching for an answer to the age-old question, Is mozzarella okay when pregnant?

Someone wanted a cheese sandwich and ended up with a whole plate full of information I'm quite sure she did not want to know.

Dude, I'm sorry.

But if you're still reading, yes, mozzarella is fine as long as it's pasteurized.

Oh who the hell am I kidding? The poor thing has run screaming from her computer and is probably begging her OB to put her into a medically induced coma for the remainder of her pregnancy as we speak.

God, I've ruined this baby-having thing for more people...

One, two, three...

I started Weight Watchers again on Tuesday.

I say again because in June when I started my regular treks to the fertility clinic for poking, prodding and other exciting indignities, I kind of gave up on counting the point value of every morsel I put in my mouth.

I needed chocolate and I needed it bad. And I didn't need the hassle of figuring out if half a Hershey bar was two points or three - or if I had enough flex points left to eat an entire package of four.

I've managed to keep off most of the 35 pounds I lost (save four playful pounds I've been yo-yoing since I quit in June), and while I've been pretty pleased with that achievement, I feel that old January need to get back on the horse and try again. With gusto.

Since you're wondering (as am I), I'm not totally sure if this means I've ditched the fertility clinic for point counting or not. I can't seem to do both at once so we'll have to see which one wins out in the end.

One makes me feel very, very good (albeit very, very hungry). The other, because it's a constant reminder that my body is old and busted, makes me feel very, very bad. One might help us have a baby. The other might help me fit into a decent pair of jeans. One forces me to eat my fruits and vegetables. The other forces me to submit to having my my hoo-ha prodded to within an inch of its life while I'm hopped up on drugs that make me feel utterly insane.

It's a tough call. Sanity versus family.

I don't know. I just don't know. If anyone is interested in making this decision for me, please feel free.

I've grown very weary of being a grown-up. If you need me I'll be in the closet eating a mixing bowl full of sugar free Jell-o and weeping.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Walter & Peggy

If you're very lucky, life (which can sometimes be so cruel) sweetly blesses you with an extra little bit of family - people who aren't related to you at all, but feel like they are just the same.

That's Walter and Peggy.

Walter is my Dad's oldest friend - a singing buddy who goes back more than 60 years. Peggy is his wife. Theirs is a love story that spans nearly six decades, and how fortunate I've been to be able sit back and watch just a little of it from the sidelines. Their devotion, tenderness, humor - a love so great that it radiated from their faces like light.

As old friends who felt more like family than some of the family I have, they were guests at our wedding. Special guests, as it turned out.

Instead of throwing my bouquet at the reception, I decided I would give it to the couple who'd been married the longest to honour their commitment and to show what an inspiration they were to me, my marriage just hours old at the time. Walter and Peggy had just celebrated their 55th anniversary and were shocked and delighted to be called up to receive the bouquet.

A month or so later a little package arrived for me. Peggy had dried a handful of the roses and tied them up in a blue ribbon that matched the dress my Maid of Honour wore.

That little dried bouquet now hangs in our bedroom in a shadow box along with My Beloved's boutonniere and one of our invitations.

Walter and Peggy were at the funeral parlor when my Grandfather died, honorary grandparents to me, by this point, and when Thomas died they both called my parents in tears. We didn't know (things were so private back then), but they lost a little girl, their second child, many years ago and were kind enough to talk about her and about the impact she had - and still has - on their lives.

They've just always been there. Walter and Peggy.

Last night Peggy slipped away in her sleep. Walter is alone for the first time in almost 60 years. Tonight he will lay down in an empty bed and begin the first night of a new life without his beloved.

All of us who love risk loss, but risking it and facing it are two very different things.

I've lost my ability to trust in the power of prayer the way I used to, but I do believe it's possible to ask God to give people the strength and support they need to endure their sorrows and to find peace. And so I'll be saying a prayer for dear old Walter before I go to sleep tonight.

If you have a moment and are so inclined, maybe you could too?

I imagine peace will be hard for him to find tonight.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Kindred spirit

The day after Boxing Day My Beloved and I went into Toronto on a mission to retrieve 11 empty giant Tinker Toy tins from his office. It's a long story, but they were scheduled to be ousted with the other office garbage and he thought they'd be perfect Christmas tree ornament storage containers.

Just to clarify, we don't have 11 giant Tinker Toy tins worth of decorations, but we hate to see useful things go to waste, so they're in our basement now awaiting further instruction. I'm not sure what those instructions will be, but in the event of a giant Tinker Toy storage emergency I know we're covered.

Anyway, after loading the tins into the back of the car we decided to walk up to Kensington Market to see what we could see. Although I've lived just outside of Toronto my entire life and worked in the city on and off for over 10 years, I've never actually been to Kensington Market. It's about a 15 minute walk from My Beloved's office and it wasn't a very cold December 27th, so off we went.

As we navigated our way through the bustling streets, I realized just how very suburban I've become since leaving my downtown job the week before Thomas was born. I haven't seen that many people all in one place in a very long time, and I'd forgotten how territorial pedestrians can be when they're on a mission.

I found myself shuffling, dancing and jumping in and out of foot traffic all the way to the market. And some of the owners of those feet (including a Food Network chef who breezed by us in full superstar mode) were definitely what I'd call interesting. I was mostly amused and intrigued - until we passed a woman in tears.

She was dressed in some sort of goth/punk/1980s retro outfit. Her hair was blue, I think. And as she clutched at the front of her jacket with one hand, the other rested helplessly on a face twisted in agony.

I heard her before I saw her. It was an awful, animal wail that literally shattered the noise of the city. I only saw her for a brief moment before she stumbled around a corner as we passed by, but instead of doing something or offering some kind of help, I just stupidly watched her go, my heart breaking.

I was stunned by how much of her pain I seemed to absorb - and by how quickly I felt it flow through me. It was almost like seeing a physical representation of my own intangible sorrow and it shocked the hell out of me.

For a second I wondered if maybe she'd lost a baby too. I wondered if she was crying out in agony for a lost boy she cradled just once. It suddenly struck me that what she was doing was almost logical if that was the case.

I mean really, doesn't it make a whole lot more sense to scream and sob rather than to smile and pretend? I've always opted for the latter when I'm out in public, but some days I think screaming and sobbing makes infinitely more sense, even if society tells us we should talk in muted voices and look on the bright side.

The bright side can be very hard to find and soft voices can be deafening.

Maybe the girl with blue hair is onto something. Or maybe she's just crazy - I'm certainly in no position to judge.

But I do wonder where she went after she turned that corner, or who she went home to. I hope she has a beloved who strokes her hair while she cries. I hope she has friends who listen. I hope someone understands.

I hope she'll be okay.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Status Quo

I was sitting on my cozy love seat with a glass of sparking red wine and a plate full of mozzarella sticks and sausage rolls enjoying the company of my sister and My Beloved as the final seconds of 2006 slipped away. It was nice - quiet and comfortable (at my age ringing in the new year needs to be quiet and comfortable for me to be interested in doing any ringing in at all).

It was the perfect way to usher in 2007 and I went to bed with the warm feeling you get when you've spent happy time with people you love.

But New Year's Eve has always made me a little sad - even before I had anything to be particularly sad about. There's something about an entire year ending that makes me nostalgic for the past - and a little afraid of the future.

And now along with the nostalgia and fear, I feel a sort of uncomfortable panic about moving so far away from Thomas. I mean from the physical part of him. Being pregnant, giving birth, holding my son.

All that happened in 2004 and 2005, and with the turning of yet another year it seems so far away. Like I'm racing away from all that I knew of him - which wasn't much at all to begin with.

Panic indeed.

So much of what I do is done with him in mind and only senility will rob me of memories of his existence, but time is pulling me away from those sweet months when I felt him alive inside me and when I held that precious bundle in my arms. And it makes me want to claw my way back in time to be closer to the him I knew.

That might sound a little crazy, but there it is. This is my second New Year's experience since he died and it appears that this is just the way it is.

Like Christmas visits in the cemetery and watching other children grow while he rests with the angels. That's just the way it is.

Okay, bit of a morbid first post of the year, but why should this Monday necessarily be any different from any other Monday? It is what it is. And I keep on keeping on.